What is a CSA?

CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. Individual farms participating in a CSA offer shares of farm crops to community members for a fee. In this model, consumers pay ahead of time for a “share” of the crops that they then receive throughout the season. Consumers generally have no control over what they will receive; they receive whatever is ripe and in season each week. A positive feature of the model is that the produce is below market price and often organic. Consumers get the freshest produce directly from the farm, cutting out the middleman (e.g. supermarket). However, there is a risk involved. By paying the farm ahead of time for a season's worth of produce, the consumer shares the risk with the farm. Yields will vary; the weather is unpredictable; and a crop may fail, leaving the consumer with less than expected. Nonetheless, a well-run farm that diversifies and plans accordingly will likely still provide the consumer with a good value.

If you like the idea and are thinking of joining a CSA program, you can find more information at Local Harvest; the website describes what this is and how it works. You can type in your zip code to find a participating farm near you.